I was looking for a pundit who said it exactly right. Here it is, from a man who endorsed John Kerry for president:
THE BUSH REVOLUTION: I think even the fiercest critics of president Bush’s handling of the post-liberation phase in Iraq will still be thrilled at what appears to me to be glacial but important shifts in the right direction in the region. The Iraq elections may not be the end of the Middle East Berlin Wall, but they certainly demonstrate its crumbling.
The uprising against Syria’s occupation of Lebanon is extremely encouraging; Syria’s attempt to buy off some good will by coughing up Saddam’s half-brother is also a good sign; ditto Mubarak’s attempt to make his own dictatorship look more democratic. Add all of that to the emergence of Abbas and a subtle shift in the Arab media and you are beginning to see the start of a real and fundamental change.
Almost all of this was accomplished by the liberation of Iraq.
Nothing else would have persuaded the thugs and mafia bosses who run so many Arab nations that the West is serious about democracy. The hard thing for liberals – and I don’t mean that term in a pejorative sense – will be to acknowledge this president’s critical role in moving this region toward democracy. In my view, 9/11 demanded nothing less.
We are tackling the problem at the surface – by wiping out the institutional core of al Qaeda – and in the depths – by tackling the autocracy that makes Islamo-fascism more attractive to the younger generation. This is what we owed to the victims of 9/11. And we are keeping that trust.